Lodge Victoria Cross # 928 UGLNSW&ACT

From WBro Bill Nash

Secretary Lodge Victoria Cross No 928 UGLNSW& ACT

[Brother Bill Nash had contacted me after reading our list of Famous Freemasons on the web. He was looking for information on Major Frederick Tubb VC (1881 - 1917). I had used the AWM as a source, and Bill was able to read the 1916 letter of Tubb, written prior to Lone Pine, in which Bro Tubb is in Cairo & visits Lodge Kitchener. Our discovery is significant; Tubb being one of only three Australian VC recipients to be Freemasons when awarded the Medal. Reading the below, I read of Bro Stuart Nash, Australian, who was killed in action Afghanistan in 2008. Mentioned in Dispatches, he was a NSW Freemason and entered on the roll of honour of Lodge Victoria Cross. Stuart is Bill’s son and joined his Grandfather’s British Army Regiment and was killed in action while serving in it. Lest We Forget. Editor]

Lodge Victoria Cross seeks not only to act as a living memorial to servicemen of the past but also to provide a lodge focused on the development of young masons supported by experienced, and young at heart, masons committed to the development of younger men who can become the keystones of the craft in the future. It is dedicated to Bro. Cpl. John Hurst Edmondson and Bro. Rfn Stuart Winston Nash.

The lodge is open to all but especially welcome are masons with direct or indirect service connections military or civil. Current membership includes Corrective service officers Police officers, full time and reserve military personnel.

Bro. Edmondson was initiated into Freemasonry in Lodge Liverpool No .197 on 3 April 1935. He was passed on 5th June, and raised on 3rd July. In the Militia since 1939, he was mobilised in to the 2/17th Battalion on 20th May 1940, and 8 days later promoted to Corporal.

Deployed to the Middle East by April 13th 1941 the 2/17th were defending the sector west of the EI Adem Road in Tobruk. Cpl. Edmondson commanded by Bro. Lt. Austin Frank Mackell was positioned at post R33.

At 11.00 p.m. that evening 30 Germans with two small field guns, a mortar and eight machine guns engaged post R.33 at close range.

Mackell, Edmondson, and five others charged the German position in the dark, bayonets fixed. Mackell, wrestling with one German on the ground saw another coming for him with a pistol, called out for “Jack”. Edmondson, in spite of being wounded in the neck and stomach during the charge ran to help his officer, and brother, and bayoneted both Germans, and then bayoneted at least one more. The Germans retreated and the patrol returned to their post with one enemy prisoner and carrying the wounded Edmondson. Early the next morning Edmondson died from his wounds. For his actions and bravery despite his own mortal injuries Cpl. Edmondson became the first Australian Soldier in World War II to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

A plaque was erected to his memory in Lodge Liverpool, and when lodge numbers swelled after WW2 a daughter Lodge was spawned and dedicated to Edmondson’s memory, named after his award, rather than the man, to remember all those who fought gallantly. Edmondson is the only Australian VC holder who was mason at the time of the deed. (Now known, to be incorrect, Maj FH Tubb is another making two, Cameron Baird being a third. ED.).

When the aging membership decided to hand in the charter Grand Lodge placed the lodge in recess affording the opportunity in 2008 for a group, some from the mother Lodge Liverpool, of young masons with military and service connections to rebuild it. It was re-consecrated in January 2009 with the old charter still intact, and so it continues today.

As the re-consecration was being planned news came of the loss of another Freemason of the jurisdiction in combat in Afghanistan. Rfn Nash was born and brought up in Sydney but in March 2008 had joined the British Army and after training was posted to 1st Battn. The Rifles deploying to Helmand Province in Afghanistan in late October 2008.

On December 17th Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) 17 and its Platoon of Afghan Soldiers were clearing compounds part of Operation Sond Chara (Red Dagger) with J Company Royal Marines in very wet and muddy conditions.

The six man OMLT came under heavy and accurate small arms and RPG fire at a compound just south of Zarghun Kalay. Rfn. Nash as LMG No. 2 was on the compound roof with no cover spotting the enemy and directing fire. With rounds landing between them and mud causing LMG stoppages the two decided to get off the roof, Rfn Nash providing cover for his mate as he jumped down. But he was hit by a single round in the process, he managed to roll from the roof was treated and evacuated by helicopter, but died before reaching the Camp Bastion Hospital. Rfn Nash was ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ for his actions.

Bro. Nash was initiated and passed in Lodge Baulkham Hills had been raised in Lodge Royal Empire on the 12th June 2008. Rfn Nash’s name was added to the roll of the Lodge Victoria Cross and his memory is celebrated with Cpl Edmondson, connecting across the generations past and present conflicts.

The lodge is now reborn to honour the spirit of sacrifice of our servicemen in defending their comrades despite the cost to themselves illustrating that mateship deeply forged in conflict, and the Masonic tenet of mutual support and friendship. There are challenges maintaining a lodge with personnel posted hither and thither, working shifts, and on emergency call, so the Lodge is, and will not be, frightened to innovate, change, and be challenging in its approach to the future direction of the craft.

You can contact WBro Bill Nash via the Editor